France bans UberPop from January 2015 as French cabbies prepare to strike
Mon 15 Dec 2014
The French government has reversed [translated] last week’s judicial deafness to the protests of French taxi drivers regarding the toll that Uber’s ‘UberPop’ service will take on their livelihoods, banning Uber’s ‘UberPop’ service in the country from 1st of January 2015. The reversal deflates today’s planned taxi-driver blockade, which intended to block 160 miles of Paris roadways with go-slow taxi-cades during the rush hour protesting against UberPop operating in France.
Today’s strike was to coincide with a march in the capital’s 7th district by The Collective of Paris Taxis, Taxis De France and the French Taxi association in protest against a commercial court’s decision [translated] on Friday not to hear the organisations’ complaints against the continuing operations of that part of Uber’s services which lets ‘amateur taxi-drivers’ ferry private passengers around via arrangements made on the Uber mobile phone app. Uber estimates that the UberPop service has 160,000 registered users in France.
There is the customary confusion in the press today about which of Uber’s services is ‘amateur’ (involving the use of private individuals driving their own private cars) and which ‘professional’ (a raft of services ranging from licensed taxi-drivers using their own or company vehicles to high-end chauffeurs in luxury transport) – an important point considering that Uber will not be banned in France per se from the new year; its provision of service to fully-licensed taxi-drivers and chauffeurs will remain unaffected.
Business week describes ‘UberX’ as the ‘more expensive’ service where drivers must have a permit – that part of Uber’s services which economy minister Emmanuel Macron has stated is unaffected by the new ban. Yet elsewhere ‘UberX’ is the San Francisco-based company’s ‘low-rent’ or ‘amateur’ service, and advertised (though less pejoratively) as such on its own website [pictures].
But who knows? In whichever city or country Uber, now worth over $40bn (£25.5bn) sets up shop it ends up bending or even spraining local laws and its own definitions of the services it offers in order to maintain operations. In October France fined [translation] VTC Uber 100,000 euros (£79,000) for describing its ‘amateur taxi’ offering as ‘car-pooling’, and the company has been through similar fines and redefinition in Germany. Uber’s war against the ‘old world’ of taxi services has certainly been one of the liveliest of the year, and promises to continue into 2015.